Crumbs from the Table of Joy

by

Lynn Nottage

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Crumbs from the Table of Joy: Act 2, Scene 1 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Ernestine and Lily are in the living room preparing to leave for the Holy Communion Banquet at the Peace Mission, where Godfrey will finally get to ask Father Divine his questions. Dressed all in white, Ernestine addresses the audience and talks about how she keeps waiting for the “revolution” Lily always talks about—and still it hasn’t come. Meanwhile, Lily does her makeup. She won’t be going to the Peace Mission with the rest of the family. Taking out a flask and sipping at it, she says that Father Divine wouldn’t appreciate the “mystique of [her] pretty face.”
Although Lily is still living in Godfrey’s apartment, she makes it clear that she wants nothing to do with the Peace Mission Movement. The fact that Ernestine is still at the apartment with her while the others are already at the Peace Mission subtly hints at her waning interest in religion and her gravitation toward other ways of thinking. The fact that she wonders when the revolution Lily talks so much about will happen is another sign that she has started to think about things that have nothing to do with her father’s religion.
Themes
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Meanwhile, Godfrey and Gerte are at the Peace Mission preparing for the banquet. Godfrey is busy trying to decide which question he should ask Father Divine first, but Gerte is more preoccupied with how much food has been laid out on the table—it seems almost obscene to her. At the same time, Ernestine continues to address the audience, suddenly imagining that Gerte jumps up on the table in a black cocktail dress and starts dancing and singing. But, of course, this doesn’t actually happen. Instead, Ernestine explains to the audience that the family spends the evening sitting around waiting for Father Divine, all of the food going to waste because he supposedly got a flat tire in New Jersey.
Ernestine’s daydreams spotlight her desire for a different, more exciting life. When she imagines Gerte jumping up on the table and dancing in a black cocktail dress, she essentially fantasizes about having a life in which everyone isn’t so solemn all of the time. In reality, though, her father is deeply serious about his devotion to the Peace Mission Movement. Godfrey’s devotion makes Father Divine’s failure to attend the Holy Communion Banquet all the more disappointing, perhaps implying that even the thing Godfrey turns to for stability and peace of mind isn’t as dependable as he’d like to think.
Themes
Faith, Devotion, and Hope Theme Icon
Critical Thinking and Open-Mindedness Theme Icon
Ermina asks why, if Father Divine is God, he can’t just fly to the banquet. But Godfrey ignores her, simply saying that Father Divine will certainly find a way to get there. “Trust me,” Godfrey says, “he won’t let us down.” But, Ernestine tells the audience, that’s exactly what Father Divine does. At the end of the night, the family clears away the food while Godfrey laments that he still has so many questions to be answered. Now he has to wait another year for Father Divine to answer his questions, which feels nearly impossible, since he needs Father Divine’s help to “move on.”
When Godfrey says he needs Father Divine’s help to “move on,” he effectively acknowledges that his involvement in the Peace Mission Movement is fueled by a desire to process past hardships so that he can move forward in life. In other words, Godfrey seems to recognize that his newfound religious devotion is directly tied to the loss of his wife, whom he still seems to be mourning (despite the fact that he now has a new wife). Instead of trying to sort through his grief on his own, then, he feels as if he needs Father Divine, which is why he’s devastated when he learns that he’ll have to wait until next year to finally meet him.
Themes
Faith, Devotion, and Hope Theme Icon
Grief, Loss, and Moving On Theme Icon
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